What is Kik? And is Kik okay for Kids?

Kik Messenger iconSounds like a commercial for a sugary cereal – Kik for Kids!  But are all the kids using Kik really kids?

Kik Messenger is a free texting app available for iPhones, Android, Windows, and Blackberry phones.  Remember, you don’t need a phone to use iPhone apps; if your child has an iPod touch or an iPad, they can install iPhone apps.  Kik is just one of many free texting apps available in the App store.

When I first wrote this up in 2012, I was curious about Kik so I went to the App store to download it.  I read the description and noticed there were over 40,000 reviews for the app.  That’s a lot and I was curious to see what people had to say.  It didn’t take me long to see what the problem is with Kik.

Here are a few screenshots from the reviews page.  I’ve removed and blurred the usernames.

Reviews of the Kik messenger app  More reviews of the Kik messenger app

Take a look – these comments were all left on just one day and there are thousands more like them.  It’s clear that some people blatantly use Kik to send and receive nude pictures.  Some call it sexting. Others call it child pornography.  I call it creepy.

In the app store now (2015) there aren’t as many recent reviews like the ones I saw back in 2012. Newer reviews I saw were mostly related to recent updates, but I still observed some iffy comments such as “…the one bad thing about it is, random people text you and ask if you wanna see them on their webcam or if you wanna see their nudes…”

While I’m sure that many people use Kik to simply send messages to friends, the fact that it is very popular for sexting leads me to believe it is not a good choice for kids. (Kik also includes an integrated web browser with easy access to inappropriate content for children).  Given that there are many other free texting apps available, including iMessage which is already included for iPod touch, I don’t see a need for Kik on a child’s mobile device.  Perhaps Kik would be fine for an older teen, but there IS a reason this app is rated 17+, so just be aware of this before okay-ing for a younger teen.

But Mom! Strangers can’t text me or send me pictures unless they know my username!

Well, sort of.  It’s true that Kik doesn’t rely on phone numbers or e-mail addresses.  But –

People can guess your username and send you messages.  Case in point, I created a Kik account for the purposes of testing out the app.  Since none of my friends use Kik (too old?) I have never given out my username.  However, I have received Kik messages from strangers many times.  These have generally been spam messages, saying things like “Congratulations! You’ve won a gift card, go to this spammy website”.

A spam message received in Kik messenger - it happens!

You can choose to delete unwanted messages or block the user from sending you future messages. You can also report spam, which will prevent that user from sending you messages.

I’m guessing this is a prevalent problem as it is also addressed in Kik’s help pages:

https://kikinteractive.zendesk.com/entries/23496671-How-are-random-people-messaging-me-

Kik and Instagram

Some Kik users use Instagram (or other social media accounts) to publicize their Kik username in their profiles or by tagging their photos.  You’ll see some users with “Kik me” and then their Kik username in their profile.  Even if your child or teen’s Instagram profile is private, their profile is still public.  If they include their Kik username in their profile (and many do), anyone who sees their Kik username on Instagram could “hit them up” on Kik.  So keep this in mind if you allow your teen to use Instagram.

Here’s another account from a concerned parent: http://www.hightechdad.com/2012/07/02/parents-beware-instagram-kik-messenger-are-a-dangerous-combination-what-social-dangers-to-check-for/

Prevent your child from downloading Kik

Kik is rated 17+ in the app store.  You can adjust App Rating restrictions (at least for iPod, iPad and iPhone users) to prevent the download of adult-oriented apps like Kik.  Learn how to restrict apps by rating.  Once set up your child will not be able to download apps over the allowed app rating.  In this example my daughter cannot download any app rated 17+.  If she were to try to download Kik, the option would be greyed out.

Restriction settings in iOS, apps over 12+ can't be downloaded Kik cannot be downloaded when apps are restricted to 12+ only

So parents, check your child’s phone or iPod touch.  If you see the Kik messenger icon, open the app and take a look at the messages.   If you don’t like what you see, discuss with your child.  Are they old enough and mature enough to deal with unwanted message?

A review on the iTunes page sums it up: “This app is quick easy and fun, but too many pedophiles asking me for nude pictures which almost forced me to delete this app. But it is safe as long as you don’t talk to strangers.”

————————————————————————

5-20-2013: I’ve had to close comments on this article.  Unfortunately some of the comments I’m receiving lately – which have NOT been approved and published – contain insults and profanity, or people sharing their Kik usernames.  I don’t have time to police all that! I think the comments to date provide a fair assessment and plenty of opinions on either side of the “Is Kik okay for kids” question.  I appreciate all who have taken the time to share their thoughts on the subject, especially teens who have done so in a respectful manner.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Wow, that’s scary stuff, right there in the “reviews” on iTunes. Thanks for linking to my article. Kik might be the “bad app” of the day right now, but there will be others. The important thing here is that parents have a conversation with their kids about this. I hope that all reactions are not knee-jerk by simply deleting apps like this without explaining WHY they are deleted. Thanks for sharing your research!

      • Parker says

        ok so i know what you mean about safety but personaly im 12 and i use kik but i only talk to poeple i know now i know some poeple just add random poeple but even so if they do and the person is a pedo asking for sh*t then they can delete the conversation and block that person. now i get what you parents are getting at but you have to understand around 11+ kids know when its a pedo or suspiocus u have to trust your kids instead of trying to over protect them and smuther them. kids dont like thier parents to over protect them or smuther them.

  2. lbug says

    Hi I’m 11 and I use Kik and instagram for (haha call me weird) twilight role play. I don’t give out info except occaisonally what country I live in. I’m trying to be smart and safe:)

    • Sierra says

      Woohoo! Keep up the good work, it’s good to know that kids still know how to be safe online! Side note, twilight role play isn’t weird, because twilights awesome :) I’m 16 and would if I had friends that like twilight, mostly we just play minecraft. Lol

  3. Jean says

    lbug, that is good to hear! It’s good to know that most kids are being responsible and playing it safe online. Keep it up!

  4. victoriashmoo says

    i just got an ipod touch and downloaded kik i don’t give out any information well just my plans for the weekend to my friends. it’s a great way to connect with friends while you’re on vacation!btw i’m 10

  5. layla says

    This site it not exactly for kids
    I see kids post nasty stuff and to kik them on website`s. Im 12 and my mom monitors it because there is creepy people out there. I never respond to people with out a profile pic

  6. violet says

    On Omegle, people actually call nude photos kiks. It is literally,unless careful, a virtual raping app.I am 11 and sadly I know this.

    • Jean says

      Hi Violet, well that sounds scary. I did have to look up Omegle and maybe I’ll review that app in the future! Doesn’t look like the best choice for someone age 11. I hope you are staying safe and not giving out personal information. Thanks for your input on Kik. I do appreciate viewpoints from kids as well as parents.

    • lightning says

      in omegle you can find all kind of people. i used it before and the first thing that pepole ask u about before saying hello is “asl?” ! its nasty…(sorry for poor english)

  7. Mike says

    I was brought aware of Kik this weekend due to finding it on my teenage daughters phone. I am shocked at what I found. I’m surprised it’s still active an not shut down due to child porn since everyone on there lists their ages. My daughter received multiple emails with inappropriate pics/videos Sometimes on the first contact. Many more requesting nude pics.

    After researching Kik, I found out about linkage to Instagram, Omegle, Oovoo and I know the list doesn’t stop there.

    I reviewed the article by HighTechDad, it was very helpful in starting my research. I have a technical job, and just found out I have a lot more work to do..

  8. Jane says

    I had no idea about all of this! My kid and her friends all use kik — I thought it was just a different kind of texting app. I better pay closer attention in the future! Thanks for the heads up!

    • margot says

      geez its not all that bad. she probably just talks to her friends over that app. and if you raised her properly she wont sent her nudes right? its not a bad app to use you just need to use your brain and for example dont talk to strangers? (sorry for poor english)

  9. Jase wolf says

    I think it is appalling that this stuff gets let in the iTunes reviews. Absolutely sick it is. Kik I’ve had since start of last year, and ever since around July I stopped giving out my kik, not because of all the weirdos (although had some weirdos which just gave to my mom one time to sort out and was hilarious what my mom said and the weirdo did not understand what she meant by in the nick lmao).
    The reason I stopped giving it out was because I was just getting too much people I could handle trying to talk to me over kik, and a number of them expected me to talk to them all the time which was forever annoying me. So I just made a new kik with a really really strong username meaning that’s not going to be guessed but then is rememberable once gotten used to it, and the only people kept as for was for my gf and a few my bffs from instagram who I just can’t afford to lose contact with.

    I did have weirdos again like I said but I just blocked them, the real reason I keep it private now is for the sake that I can have peace and quiet rather than one wanting to talk each hour the day lol. It went to about 80 contacts lol, but I just got fed up with the never ending messages and then when wanna talk to my gf or my bffs so much clutter in the inbox lol.

    But anything and everything these days is going to be used majorly for this appalling behaviour. Just have to learn to just keep in mind that all it takes is to press one simple button without you saying anything to them and that’s them blocked from you. If they know your other social stuff it may be a pain yes but still there is a block button on these social things. One thing that sadly don’t have in person but when in person taking no notice usually is able to work just as good as a block button but then there’s always that one risk that they will suddenly just come lash out at you. That can’t happen over the Internet or not in person at all. My attitude and my moms attitude is just block the damn person and over and done with. But then I can think of just so many that shouldn’t be given access to this social stuff because lots of times the block button is just so underused.

    But if you are sensible then you will only make public what really is made to be public, keep instat messaging between who you trust and if someone comes along and they are creepy just block them. Just make sure not to give out your iMessage email/number because unless you will completely use a different apple I’d, there’s no way to block that person. Which is what I had to go through, changing between my apple Ids for iMessage so I no longer have girl who just shattered me from pestering me. (before my current gf who is gonna be a keeper) . Kik is a fine app. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just stupid pedophiles, perverts, creeps, messed up jerks started using it for all the wrong purposes. But if you don’t broadcast your username and have been sensible by making it one that isn’t gonna be searched by random then you are same and you will be thankful that you’ve kept kik, because its a remarkably instant fast messaging app which is by far much more convenient than iMessage which can take 3-20 seconds to send a message compared to as quick as 1.2.3 which is the speed of kik.

    Before any parent gives their child access to anything make sure they know the dangerous and know their restrictions, and have trust in them but don’t over do it meaning they may think they can be sneaky.

    Before you get any app, you have to know the dangers you could be putting yourself at risk to if your are a bit uncareless.

    But if you know the risks, know what measures to take to keep yourself safe far from these risks and know the action to take if you do land in one of these dodgy situations then you are going to be just fine and you should have no problem with dealing with stalkers, pedophiles, creeps, perves and cyber bullies etc. if everyone had the attitude that just block them instantly without saying anything then cyber bullying just wouldn’t be effective on people. The only bullying and stalking that would be a problem if this attitude was housed by everyone is when it happens in person where you can’t simply block them.

    This is my view of all this stuff and I know we all have our own different views and we all find it easier harder to ops with situations but if simply just block them without speaking to them was sunken more deeply into people then I doubt that hardly any of this would happen and we’d just look at all these creeps and just think “oh sod you, your not worth my time” and it would just be looked upon as an annoyemce to the eye not a problem.

    Btw I’m 17 (with high autism) (18 in April) and I am just so thankful for things like instagram kik twitter Facebook Tumblr YouTube etc because socialising, meeting all these people I’ve met has greatly made me so much happier and if it wasn’t thanks to my gf my depression would of won me over but I’ve won over my depression a trillion times. What I use social stuff for now is to spread the message across suicide is no solution, but I do get a lot ask for my kik but I strictly make sure people know kik I don’t give out. Just be strict with your own rules, don’t let people try bypass your comfort zone, it’s just stupid letting it happen when there is always a block button. I know it’s not always the victim themselves but as long as the parent(s)/guardian(a) are doing their role then this stalking, creeping, cyber bullying etc just won’t be effective.

    Thanks if you read my say in the matter

    Jase

  10. mama t 43 says

    While checking my 12yr olds kick I saw a conversation between her and a supposidly 13 yr old girl. My daughter asked how the 13yr old how she found her, the girl said she was just typing in random names. My daughter had a short conversation with her but told this person what state we live in!!! I am now very nervous and am not sure where to go from here!!

    • Anna says

      Umm.. not trying to be rude here in any way but there’s no reason to worry. Unless your daughter sent her your address then you should be fine. But you’ll probably want to explain to your daughter the dangers of giving out information like that.

    • margot says

      -____________- sorry i’m aware that im being kinda rude here but C’MON A STATE. States are huge.

    • Rarity says

      They can’t locate you from your state though, they can’t track your phone through Kik I live in Florida and I’m a 13 year old girl however there are hundreds of 13 year old girls in Florida it’s not really something to get upset about and I do apologize if I’m sounding rude

  11. Jean says

    Hi Mama t 43,
    I’d suggest that your daughter block the user. You can find out how to do this here: http://help.kik.com/customer/portal/articles/449410-i-m-being-harassed-on-kik-what-can-i-do-.

    Also this article looks good for setting Kik to ignore random users: http://help.kik.com/customer/portal/articles/449441-how-are-random-people-messaging-me-

    Also here are all the Community & Safety articles on the Kik Support pages:
    http://help.kik.com/customer/portal/topics/206657-community-safety-on-kik/articles

  12. says

    See that’s what I want to know is does it have nudes?because my 13 year old daughter asked me mon can I download kik I asked her what it is I read it and I wasn’t sure

    • Jean says

      Hi Javona,
      It all depends on who your daughter receives “kiks” (messages) from. If it is only from her friends then it could be fine; just know that there is a lot of activity of people sending nude photos to one another. They would have to know your daughter’s Kik username.

    • Lauren says

      My daughter secretly was using this app….I discovered she was connected to strangers who had naked profile pics and absolutely disgusting profile names regarding oral sex. I have been shocked and disappointed to discover who my 15 year old really is. I personally don’t think its a good idea at all to let youngsters loose on it. Far to much temptation. I’m guessing my girl also has an instagram account seeing as now I have her
      She still keeps getting new adds from complete strangers. Oh well, better get searching

  13. d says

    for any parents out there get ur children OFF kik ……its a feeding frenzy that encourages children to grow up too soon and leaves them wide open to weirdos…..they say its a 17+ site …so how come my 14 year got on it along with more than what seems half his school.

  14. Caitlin says

    Hi, this what I like to call the creepiest app on the world:) see I had it before and still do so I saw this pick and this guy was nude and I sent an Kik to him and told him that I was no longer talking to him and I blocked him. But I am only 11 and I have been taught by the best parents in the world:)!!

  15. Wills Mom says

    My son had what I thought was an innocent app on his iPad, “Jokes LOL!”
    There is a chat feature to this initially perceived sophomoric app. I was unaware when I approved it.
    I found a conversation in progress with a “Bobby” and an invite to find BobbyHot on KIK . . you can imagine my shock.

    Announcing his mother had entered the chat resulted in “Bye” and ‘bobby’ disconnecting.

    A heartfelt conversation with my 14 year old and electronic restrictions ensued.

    THANK YOU BOTH

    Still scared,
    Mom

  16. freyarandom says

    Im 10 and I have never seen any of those messages on kik. all my friends use it there is nothing wrong with it. I only use my friends on it so it is perfectly safe and i know it is them because they send pictures which are actually them!

  17. bobthebuilderispsycho says

    i guess i can undestand what this is saying… but think about it.. you need to have the EXACT username to message thmm.. not “simular” .. EXACT.. just like your phone number… so there is kinda no difference between kik and any other text messing app… and those itunes reviews are just straight up deparate and creepy..

  18. Anonymousislegion says

    This is kne of the dumbest things I’ve ever read. Kik is a PHOTO MESSAGING app, and it in NO way forces you to receive or send nude pictures. To receive one, you would have to add a person as a contact, and ask them personally to send one, just like a real phone. I’ve had kik for years and I’ve never received or sent any nude pictures. You know why? Because I never purposefully tried to receive one. Note: YOU CANNOT receive messages from users that are not in your chats list. Just use common sense before making assumptions, and use your brain like the educated adults that you are. I am 16 years old and somehow I’m still more educated than some adults on this site.

    • Jean says

      Thank you for your input although I’m not sure why you had the need to be insulting while trying to make your point. After reading your comment and then re-reading this article, I wonder if you even bothered to read it? Most everything you point out about Kik is included in my article. I think you missed the point that this site is intended to educate parents who are not as tech savvy as you are. Yes of course not everyone uses it for sending nude pictures but there is no denying that it does happen. I have seen teens and kids younger than you advertising their Kik names on Instagram and NOT using common sense.

  19. anoymous says

    urmm, im 13 and i have kik. ps you can block people and kik is actually a great app if yo dont advertise it. i have instagram as well. you wanna make yourself private cz like people will send stuff to you. and whoever made this. pedophiles only message people who advertise their thing and just cz of those ‘reviews’ doesnt mean that people actually send them messages

  20. Rose says

    In all honesty, kik isn’t that bad if you moniter who they are talking to. I would let them get it as long as they were only talking to friends.

  21. jan says

    Hi, Is there a way that all of my daughters kik messaging can also come through on my phone so I can see what she is messaging? I can do this with her email through texting but do not know how to do this on kik. This way she stays safe but has no idea I am doing this.

    • margot says

      please, IF there is a way, still don’t. really, she’ll be safe. and it’s a nightmare for your daughter. if she figures out you do (what if you find something bad, you need to approach her then, right?) the trust you have will be broken and if you read all the things your girl says you’ll probably figure things out you rather would not have known, i promise

  22. Hoganbcmj says

    Why would you encourage parents to secretly open up apps and read personal messages in their kids’ phones without at least asking or having a conversation about it first? Seems really disrespectful to ur child’s privacy. If u have reason to suspect something dangerous then by all means but at least broach the subject with your kid and ask them what they’re up to before you just snoop into their private worlds. When I was that age my privacy meant everything to me. My mom snooped in my stuff and I never forgave her.

    • James says

      I’m 18 and I think that parents should in a sense “snoop” when the child can be in danger emotionally or physically, especially if that child is subject to having nude pictures being sent to them. As a parent you should take any means necessary to protect your kid, not give them “privacy” and let them do what ever they want to.

    • Abby says

      Good point lol I’m only writing comments on here cuz I found this on google and thought I should make a statement that makes sense so kids don’t suffer :)

  23. Ryan says

    More than half the time people are trying to get under aged kids to send nude picks to strangers

  24. Nathan says

    hello everyone im gonna type this as fast as i can so sorry for any grammatical errors. ok so i am a regular kik user and im going to start by saying that kik can be perfectly fine for children to use (children being aged 11 up) as long as they know about internet saftey and the dangers of giving away personal information like home adress or phone number. what does it matter if someone you have no intention of meeting with knows how old you are or what country you live in haha im a 14 year old boy and ive used kik for about a year and a half i use it sensibly for talking to my friends and sometimes random users to establish an internet friendship (NOT RELATIONSHIP) dont get me wrong kik can be dangerous and so can omegle but with a bit of logic common sense and adult supervision they can be great fun. also for any kik users (or future kik users) that have stumbled upon this forum as i have if you want to talk to me my kik is (removed by moderator; sorry this isn’t the place to share your kik username!) thank you for your ttime guys peace out 😛

  25. Doodlman says

    I’m only twelve and I have kik it’s a really good app for talking to my friends I have like 80 and its super easy to handle don’t worry about your son/doughter doing bad stuff.

  26. James says

    I honestly agree with this. Im 18 and to me this just seems like a sexting app for pedos. There really is no reason for the app if you have an iphone with texting, and if you need to be able to text there are plenty of texting apps that don’t involve everything kik does. A good app that I have personally used is TextNow, which gives you your own number and it is just like texting regularly and it comes with free calling as well. Kik just seems like an excuse for most kids to get away with sexting because kik doesn’t have the capability to be traced and can just be simply be deleted when you are through with use and all history can not be pulled back.

    • Rarity says

      You can use Kik to connect to people all around the world though and it gives kids a sense of privacy I use it even with my real friends because honestly I will admit I talk about a lot of weird things that aren’t really bad but could be portrayed as bad and with Kik there is also additives like making your own memes and sharing Youtube videos directly from Youtube and you can make friends over the Internet without having to give out something as personal as your phone number

  27. Abby says

    Lol this is too funny you parents are way over protective of your kids ok it’s understandable if your 8 or 12 yr old kid is using it to not let them use it but I’m 14 and I use it . It’s all about the way they use it if your kids know better not to talk to strangers then your perfectly fine. I only talk to people I know on there and obviously I don’t send anyone nudes so if you trust your son or daughter you’ll be aright and also the way kik works is is if you know the person they have to know your username and type it on it to find you other wise STRANGERS won’t be able to find you on there please parents don’t deprive your kids of an awesome childhood kids hate overprotective parents you should listen to what they have to say and say yes to half of the things they ask for like your daughter or son with a girlfriend or to hang at the movies ALONE with friends for a bit and sleepovers. Common guys its not like your kids are gonna get raped on kik

  28. Lauren says

    Thank you for this information. Unfortunately I have been too late in discovering my 15 year old daughters secret life, but its helpful now to find out what other apps like this one are out there. I have just discovered on my daughters phone she had this app….and there was me naively worrying about her freedom of using bbm….seems like there’s a lot of opportunity for youngsters to have secret lives and contract with complete strangers. Oh well, no more phone for her until she’s old enough to move out and buy her own!!

    • Lauren says

      And I would like to add that I don’t think it’s disrespectful of parents to check up on their kids, how can you be a good parent if you don’t know what your child is up to….and let’s face it, most youngsters are extremely secretive……generally because THEY are being disrespectful of your rules our wishes!! My daughter has been saved from a paedophile.because of my ‘snooping’ and now I’ve discovered she’s sleeping around because I
      check up. If I left her to her OEM devices she’d be.dead/raped/pregnant/

  29. Concerned Dad says

    I agree with Lauren. What is it going to take for parents to understand how dangerous these activities are for our children? We almost lost our daughter to one of these pedophiles with a ladder to the window, we had to get the police involved etc.
    I just set age restrictions on my daughters phone, after reading the prodding texts from other so-called teenagers for her to send nude photos.

  30. Mary says

    KIk is very bad! It is unsafe and I do not recommend it to anyone! There are paedofiles out there people!

  31. Rarity says

    Well I use Kik a lot and some people might call it irresponsible because I do indeed talk to strangers but honestly I’m 13 and I role play even though it might sound stupid and most of the people are friends that I met on Instagram and they have never sent me anything inappropriate it’s okay as long as you talk to the right groups of people I suppose I’ve talked to people from 9-27 years old I don’t tell people anything I shouldn’t and I have given a few my phone number in all honesty Kik is probably safer than IMessage because people will talk to strangers and with Kik you don’t have to give them your phone number if you don’t like people you can block them and if they make new accounts and keep bothering you then you just make a new account not that that’s ever really happened to be but I do suppose some would choose to see the worse side of Kik rather than the benifits